ImpactAlpha Open: Manage the impact of investments, better

ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Hi there, Agents of Impact! 

Impact investors gathered at the Mission Investors Exchange conference in Baltimore last week to regroup and reimagine investment strategies to drive inclusion and equity (read ImpactAlpha’s running dispatch, Overheader at MIE,” from Jessica Pothering and David Bank). 

One emerging theme: Listening to, engaging and being close to communities sets impact investors apart from other investors. California Endowment’s Robert Ross guided attendees to “stay proximate to the point of injustice,” quoting Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. Nick Tilsen of Indigenous-centered NDN Collective, was more direct: “If you’re trying to impact the community and you’re not working directly with the people that are impacted by the challenges, sorry, but you’re probably not doing impact investing.” 

In this week’s newsletter:

  • Better impact management;
  • Investing in the creative economy;
  • Visualizing the flows of climate finance; and
  • Catalyzing BIPOC wealth creation.

Ok, let’s get to it. – Dennis Price


Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Outputs to outcomes. To know what to measure, “listen to the people who we hope to positively impact through the work we do, so that they can tell us what things change in their lives and of these, which are most material to their wellbeing,” 60 Decibels’ Tom Adams says in a guest post, arguing (natch) for “survey instruments that can be repeated across whole sectors, year-in, year-out.” (Open)
  • Extinction risk. Move over climate. The new front for corporate disclosure is biodiversity, writes Amy Cortese, reporting on efforts to hammer out a global agreement to forestall extinction at the COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal.
  • Europe’s ESG edge. European asset owners are pushing for ESG in venture capital, giving Europe an edge over Silicon Valley, write VentureESG’s Johannes LenhardDavid Kampmann of the University of Oxford’s Smith School, and Houlihan Lokey’s Moriam Masha. (Open)
  • Impact carry. Tying fund managers’ compensation to impact performance is easier said than done, write Chintan Panchal and Aaron Bourke of RPCK Rastegar Panchal. (Open)
  • Cultural capital. I reported on how Upstart Co-Lab turned its pipeline of creative economy deals into an investable impact strategy.

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Agents of Impact

🗺️ Eric Berlow, Vibrant Data Labs: Visualizing the flows of climate finance

An ecologist and data nerd, Eric Berlow spent years studying the dynamics of complex systems, from food webs and natural ecosystems to friendship ties. His latest project: The Climate Finance Tracker, which uses machine learning to map the flows of capital to climate mitigation and adaptation (in partnership with ImpactAlpha, One Earth and others). Up now: a new map of $50 billion in climate investment in Africa and Latin America.

🏃🏿‍♀️ On the move

  • Banks Benitez, ex- of Uncharted, joins Ezra Climate as head of venture development.
  • Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board appoints Anna Murray, ex- of Sun Life Capital Management, to the role of senior managing director and global head of sustainable investing.
  • David LeZaks of the Croatan Institute joins Planetary Health Collective’s board.

Impact Briefing

🎧 On this week’s podcast

Host Monique Aiken has the headlines, and David Bank talks with Aisha Weeks of the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth about narrowing the racial wealth gap by expanding access to home ownership.


Deal Spotlight

🌍 Financing women-led businesses in Africa

Small businesses are drivers of jobs and inclusive economic growth. In Africa, where more than half of small businesses are led by women, catalytic capital is helping bridge the gendered financing gap. A consortium led by Mennonite Economic Development Associates, or MEDA, will manage the Africa Growth Fund, Mastercard Foundation’s new $200 million fund for female fund managers investing in small and mid-sized businesses. 

  • Fund of funds. The Africa Growth Fund’s first investment is Nigeria’s Aruwa Capital, a gender-lens fund led by a first-time fund manager Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes. Aruwa raised over $20 million this week to help Nigeria’s small businesses better support female managers, workers and customers.
  • Catalytic capital. A $75 million partnership between the U.K.’s British International Investment and Nairobi-based African Guarantee Fund will guarantee loans from lenders to small businesses in Africa, especially women-led firms addressing climate impacts.
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Six Signals

💰 Catalyzing BIPOC wealth creation. Reprice (overstated) risk, invest in community- and place-based wealth-building assets, back funds led by BIPOC managers at scale, according to “Catalytic Capital for BIPOC Wealth Creation.” (New Growth Innovation Network

🕵️ Corporate accountability. Candide Group led a successful campaign to pressure banks against financing private prisons involved in the family separation crisis at the U.S. Mexico border. Private prison company Core Civic sued the firm and cofounder Morgan Simon alleging the campaigns were illegal. Courts last week ruled in favor of the activists. (Candide Group)

🇮🇳 Indian bumper crop. Indian farmtech startups raised $1.5 billion in 2022, a 185% year-on-year increase. (AgFunder)

👨‍🌾 Rebel farmers. Curbing the environmental impact of agriculture will put farmers from the Netherlands to New Zealand out of business. They’re resisting. (Bloomberg)

💲 Climate capital stack. A variety of equity options have emerged to fund climate startups. But climate founders also need to understand grants, credit, partnerships, and incentives to ensure they can maximize their access to funding and increase their probability of success. (Third Sphere)

🌱 ESG trends to watch in 2023. Increased scrutiny of net-zero targets and decarbonizing industrial real estate; emerging regulations in the U.S. and E.U.; striking rail workers, poor air quality and new ground rules for internet companies. (MSCI)


Get in the Game 

💼 Step up

  • Ares Management Corp. is hiring an ESG associate and an ESG analyst in New York.
  • Rockefeller Foundation is recruiting a regenerative agriculture manager in New York.
  • The World Bank is looking for a director of development impact measurement in Washington, D.C.

🤝 Meet up

  • BlueMark is hosting “Raising the Bar 2.0: Introducing BlueMark’s Framework for Evaluating Impact Reporting,” with Margot Brandenburg of Ford Foundation, Philipp Essl of Big Society Capital, Ka-Hay Law of TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good, Impact Engine’s Roger Liew and Impact Frontiers’ Mike McCreless, in conversation with BlueMark’s Sarah Gelfand and Tristan Hackett, today, Dec. 13 at 11am ET.
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will host an electrification summit, tomorrow, Dec. 14.

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